Connecticut Education Association vote would promote democracy in union elections

Similar to the Electoral College for President of the United States, the Connecticut Education Association presently elects its officers through a process that separates individual union members from the direct election of their officers.  However, educators attending the CEA’s annual Representatives Assembly (RA) will have the opportunity to change that…for the better.

If the constitutional change is adopted, teachers throughout Connecticut would he given the ability to vote directly for their state officers.

It is a change that would not only ensure democracy at the CEA, but it is a step that would send a powerful message about the importance of one person, one vote in our society.

As a recent press release explained,

The amendment will be voted on by delegates at this year’s CEA Representative Assembly on May 6th. Under the proposal, all 43,000 CEA members would have the right to vote for state-level union leaders.

Connecticut educator, Martin Walsh, a teacher residing in Wethersfield and member of the CEA’s Progressive Caucus said,

“Unions thrive on participation, and direct democracy spurs involvement. In this age of instantaneous and secure data transmission, it makes perfect sense to open statewide elections to all union members. Our proposal can be easily implemented at a reasonable cost. Now is preeminently the time to make this important change.”

At a time when our democracy is under unprecedented threats, it is great to see that the Connecticut Education Association will actually be voting on a Constitutional Amendment to expand the use of direct democracy when it comes to electing officers.

  • mookalaboona

    I’ll believe it when I see it. CEA, the paper tiger. Endorsed Malloy 2 times when he disparaged and insulted teachers unless he needed their votes. The system in place now insures the slate currently in power to always be in power. No way for an outside teacher to be successful in a CEA election. I predict it will get defeated by the delegates that supposedly “represent” us.

    • Spliff

      A bunch of marks.

  • Bill Morrison

    Too bad that AFT doesn’t follow suit.

  • KeFlynn

    HERE IS THE PRESS RELEASE IN ITS ENTIRETY: CEA UNION MEMBERS SHOULD CONTACT THEIR REPRESENTATIVE TOMORROW TO TELL THEM HOW THEY FEEL. IF MEMBERS AT LARGE FEEL LIKE THOSE ASKED TO SIGN THE PETITION, THEN THERE IS 100% SUPPORT FOR THIS AMENDMENT.
    Press Release
    Connecticut’s Largest Teachers’ Union to Vote on Constitutional Amendment to Allow Direct Elections of Statewide Leadership Offices
    A petition campaign launched by the Progressive Caucus of the Connecticut Education Association will be decided by delegates at the annual Representative Assembly
    Connecticut, April 3, 2017: Rank and file teachers throughout Connecticut may have a stronger voice in the Connecticut Education Association thanks to a constitutional amendment proposed by members of the CEA Progressive Caucus. A petition drive garnered more than double the necessary signatures to support a rules change that would allow direct elections of statewide leadership offices.
    The amendment will be voted on by delegates at this year’s CEA Representative Assembly on May 6th. Under the proposal, all 43,000 CEA members would have the right to vote for state-level union leaders. If adopted, future elections would be conducted electronically by a neutral third party and results reported at the annual RA.
    “We want every CEA union member in Connecticut to know about this proposed change,” said Scott Minnick, a teacher who lives in East Hampton and member of the Progressive Caucus. “The Progressive Caucus believes that direct elections are the most powerful tool to encourage engagement. Every caucus member who circulated petitions reported that all teachers responded positively to supporting the proposal. It is our hope and expectation that once educators learn of this amendment, they will overwhelmingly tell their representative delegates of their district to vote yes on the amendment in May.”
    Martin Walsh, a teacher residing in Wethersfield and member of the Progressive Caucus said, “Unions thrive on participation, and direct democracy spurs involvement. In this age of instantaneous and secure data transmission, it makes perfect sense to open statewide elections to all union members. Our proposal can be easily implemented at a reasonable cost. Now is preeminently the time to make this important change.”
    Jonathan Pelto, a public education advocate and Wait, What? Blogger, responded to the news of this proposed change: “At a time when our democracy is under unprecedented threats, it is great to see that the Connecticut Education Association will actually be voting on a Constitutional Amendment to expand the use of direct democracy when it comes to electing officers. Ensuring systems that promote the fundamental rights associated with one person, one vote would send a powerful message far and wide. Hooray for Connecticut’s educators!”

  • KeFlynn

    VOTE YES
    VOTE YES To the Constitutional Amendment
    to Institute Direct Election of CEA Leadership

    1. Direct elections will open and encourage involvement and energize our rank and file members:

    o Direct electronic voting is easy, accessible, and cheap. It will increase the percentage of election participation more than 10 fold as it has in neighboring States like New Hampshire, Vermont and New Jersey.

    o The Friedrichs case shows us the need to be united. Educators more than ever are becoming acutely aware that they need to be involved. Direct elections will help fulfill that desire, create a greater sense of empowerment, and go a long way to achieving the membership unity that CEA needs.

    2. Direct elections will align the electoral process with the principles set forth in our Preamble to our Constitution:

    o Direct elections will fulfill this intent to “recognize the importance of the teacher…as the preeminent member of the profession” and to “insure full and effective participation in the Association by all members.”

    o Inviting participation of all members will protect our profession as a whole by uniting us and truly making us Stronger Together!

    3. Direct elections will democratize the current electoral process:

    o Electoral system will invite inclusion and give a voice to all educators in the State.

    o Members can vote at their convenience without having to attend the RA.

    o Statewide electronic voting controlled by a 3rd party election service will make voting convenient, allow voters an opportunity to view every candidate’s
    biography and photo, and provide final results at the CEA RA.

  • Lisa Rampulla Bress

    Democracy is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body. Delegates seated at the CEA Representative Assembly are voted in by individual members every year. Each local elects their own delegates. I have been voted in by my peers as an active member and a retired member. I don’t feel the current process separates individual union members from the election of their officers. I believe it simply empowers them to chose a delegate/representative that aligns with their views to vote in their absence.To cast an aspersion that the current system is less democratic because there is not a direct vote by every member is unfounded. Members have a voice and a choice when they elect their RA delegate. As an elected delegate, I vote based on who the candidates are, what they stand for, how they campaigned and whether or not they align with the views of those who elected me to serve. Electing delegates is just one way of doing it and no less democratic.

    • NonFeePayer

      With that logic, it is pointless for those in the left to dispute the results of the 2016 Presidential election since Trump won via the electoral college (which is the goal of election) supposedly lost the popular vote. The truth of the matter is that CEA and unions like them want to suppress alternative viewpoints, innovation, accountability and keep the same sheepish fraternity of individuals who will not challenge the status quo, but will instead salivate from their free meal tickets, booze, trip to DC, hotel rooms and other perks based on members dues dollars. All this, while backstabbing each other and playing two-faced juvenile pettiness for the sake of getting the same people elected in succession. Is it really a shock that Don Williams is the new Exec. Director or the open elections to members didn’t pass. Don’t forget how Cohen and company view and treat retired members as if we are a thorn in their backside. All members, retired and active are simply numbers they need to continue their spoiled lifestyle. If you don’t believe that stop by their upcoming golf tournament and see how much booze is downed before noon. Nothing but gluttony and sloth from a select few that keep the true meaning of union a thing of the past.

      • Lisa Rampulla Bress

        Sounds like you were an insider who is now an outsider and full of sour grapes. I don’t have any pals at CEA. I worked in my local starting at Building Rep and then became a Co-President. I did not have to kiss anyone’s butt to do so. In fact, I was recognized and asked to advocate for teachers at legislative hearings and press events by Sheila Cohen who didn’t know me personally at all, but must have seen me speak out at some event and liked what she heard. I don’t get involved in ‘two-faced juvenile games” so I don’t see any of it. Those types of things happen in every organization so I’m not sure what that has to do with how CEA serves us as educators. What I do see is hard working people who are passionate about teachers and education trying to do their best. I see people who have supported my local when we needed it and pushed back against the state with every resource at their disposal. As far as the “status quo” goes, I’ve seen lots of spirited discussion at all kinds of meetings and I suggest you get involved if you want your voice heard and stop hiding behind your anonymous posts. CEA Retired could use more people who care about education and you seem to still have an interest.

    • mookalaboona

      Maybe you do Lisa. But most of the delegates kiss the butts of the leadership. I’ve seen it over and over

      • Lisa Rampulla Bress

        I haven’t kissed anyone’s butt yet, nor do I intend to. How can the leadership make people do what they say? Yes, we had a winner because Sheila Cohen had the loyalty and votes of more members. Does anyone ever stop to ask why? I was new to union leadership when I started and I got a lot of help from CEA employees who spent a lot of time assisting me, including Sheila. I attended free workshops and training (that anyone could attend) on important issues that were sponsored and paid for by my union. Sheila Cohen, Jeff Leake and their Uniserve staff supported my local when we were going thru difficult times. Summer Leadership Conferences provided opportunities for professional growth and trained me as a leader. The most important part of a union is YOU and what you make of it. These things are available to all. No organization is perfect, but I am grateful for the advocacy they provide. Look at Wisconsin…things could be way worse. The 400 people who vote are involved and are chosen to represent their locals. I’ll say it again…there is nothing undemocratic about that.

    • L. Solesky

      One of the key points that Pelto pointed on in the article was that allowing this change to allow ALL teachers to vote

      “…would not only ensure democracy at the CEA, but it is a step that would send a powerful message about the importance of one person, one vote in our society.”

      That did not happen and governance would freak if it did. I also find it interesting that there was no response to the free meals and booze comments. I guess we all don’t have the luxury of going to the Aqua Turf or Mohegan thanks to members dues dollars. Can you justify that?

  • Nicholas Banks

    Did it pass?

  • fuller4524

    Such kind of election in education makes the people so more confident about education quality. So i like this democracy so much.